Top Tips for Transitioning from the Public to Private Sector

Published: 4 March 2015

Public sector jobs are expected to fall up to 40% over the next five years according to a leading think-tank organisation. This is part of a drive from the public sector to reduce costs throughout all governmental services.

The public sector is responding to this by becoming more commercialised in their approach, which includes outsourcing some of their services, joint partnership working, and being more innovative in the way in which they deliver some of their services.

Candidates who want to make a successful transition into the private sector will need to change their approach from ‘traditional public sector thinking’ in order to embrace the culture of their potential new working environment. The private sector typically has a different mind-set; one of efficiency, which tends to focus on increasing revenue, sales, and being more strategic in their operations.

In order to make the move successfully, here are a few tips which may help:

  1. Research the organisation and role in detail: Reviewing their competitors, news articles, demonstrating an understanding of the organisations aims and values, reviewing annual reports and financials etc.
  2. Focus your application on the relevant experience you have for the role: Include key achievements, cost reduction savings, turnaround of services etc.
  3. Refrain from using jargon not commonly encountered in the private sector: E.g. substitute ‘service users’ for ‘consumers’.
  4. Include any commercialisation initiatives you have introduced: Perhaps those that resulted in a more efficient way of working.
  5. Connect with head-hunters and make yourself ‘visible’: On average over 50% of Berwick Partners’ successful appointments come from us headhunting candidates who were not actively looking. Our Consultants are specialists within the industries they recruit into and can offer specific advice, especially around how to operate in a competitive environment. Also using social media sites such as LinkedIn can help make you more visible to the recruitment industry.
  6. Attend networking events: This offers you the chance to interact with other specialist individuals within your chosen industry and recruitment consultants who recruit into these markets too. These events also tend to have a guest speaker who will talk about topics related to that particular industry, allowing you to obtain further market knowledge.

Whilst it may have historically been difficult to transition from the public sector into the private sector, organisations do now look for individuals who can demonstrate commerciality outside of their sector. It is important that within CVs you ‘sell’ yourself effectively, as this is the first impression you will give to a potential employer or head-hunter.

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